Entries Tagged as 'Windows 7'

Office Applications for Windows 7

Microsoft has announced the release of Office 2010 first quarter of next year available in both 32-bit and 64-bit; and I’m sure it will be a fine application suite; I’m sure it will also be expensive.

I tried Office 2007 when I first moved to Windows Vista, but I found it very difficult to figure out how to do even simple tasks; so I stuck with Office 2003.

Now I’m at the point that I’m reconsidering my needs in an office suite, and I’m finding that I really only use very basic features, and I value a consistent, simple interface over most anything else (well, that’s assuming that the software works).

A good friend of mine has been using OpenOffice for quite sometime now, and he’s been extremely happy with it.

I’d looked at OpenOffice a few years ago, but I’ve never really been a fan of any software written in Java that requires the JRE (I’ve always found it to be sluggish).

Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say.

I downloaded OpenOffice (for Windows) and installed it on my work station.

My initial test was to open up some of the more complicated documents I had; not that I really have any documents that are that complicated.  It worked, it worked well, and it was fast.

I played with it a little more, and then I decided to take a look at how much disk space it consumed… it was tiny compared to Office 2003.

Then I decide to create a few new documents and spreadsheets with it — no problem, it seemed to do everything I needed.

WOW.

I just don’t know what else to say… why would I pay Microsoft for a huge suite of office applications that I rarely use; and use only a small fraction of the features???

OpenOffice is available for a number of operating systems, and works fine on Windows 7.

A good way to save some money on your computer needs is switch over to OpenOffice when you upgrade to Windows 7.

OpenOffice.org

Originally posted 2009-11-15 01:00:48.

Microsoft Vista System Update Readiness Tool

If you’ve had problems updating your Microsoft® Windows Vista system to SP2 you may want to download the System Update Readiness Tool and run it even if you intend to skip SP2 and move directly to Windows 7… apparently upgrades to Windows 7 may fail if your Vista system is in a state where SP2 didn’t install correctly.

My advice, save yourself a headache by downloading and installing the System Update Readiness Tool — at least if you end up having to call Microsoft support it’s one less thing they will have you do before someone actually pays attention to your problem.

 

 
32-bit
System Update Readiness Tool (x86)

64-bit
System Update Readiness Tool (x64)

Originally posted 2009-10-11 01:00:53.

Windows 7 – N

If you’re in the United States it’s unlikely you’ll find a Microsoft® Windows 7 N version on a retail shelf; but if you’re in Europe you might.

The N version of Windows was originally released late in the XP era in order to satisfy an EU order that Microsoft offer it’s customers a version of their operating system without their instant messenger and media technologies.  I believe the sales numbers indicated that no one in the EU really wanted such a version; but it was a good way for the EU to rape Microsoft for a sizable cash settlement and create a pain in the butt for consumers.

If you are forced to buy an N version (it’s the same price as the non N version — but it might be the only thing sitting on the shelf) and you actually want to use Microsoft Media Player (or at least install the Microsoft CODECs) you can do so by downloading a nearly 300MB file (there’s one for 32-bit and one for 64-bit).

And thank the EU for making your life difficult.

Media Feature Pack for Windows 7 N and Windows 7 KN (KB968211)

Originally posted 2009-11-07 01:00:20.

Windows 7 – Install With Multiple Disks

I set out this evening to install Windows 7 Ultimate on one of my “high end” desktops, and like all my desktops it has multiple SATA drives running in AHCI mode (after all, it’s “high end”).

No matter how I setup my drives in the BIOS or with the SATA cables I kept getting the larger (newer) drive as DISK0 in the Windows 7 install and the smaller (older) drive as DISK1.

Finally I started doing some reading on the Internet, and I’m not the only person who’s noticed this behavior.  In fact, some say it’s random.

Based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve read I suspect that Microsoft’s EFI BIOS implementation re-polls [discovery] the drives and ignores what the PC legacy BIOS tells it… and the first drive to respond is DISK0.  In my case the drive I want to be DISK0 is probably predictably slower than the drive I want to be DISK1, so I see consistent results.  However, if the drives are very similar (or identical) you could see either become ready first (a micro-second counts).

This is obviously a bug in Windows 7 (didn’t happen in Vista; but apprently is did happen in Vista SP1 and SP2), and can cause all kinds of problems down the road.

What’s the best way to deal with it?

Open up your case and unplug all but the first drive, do your installation, then power up the drives one-by one (if you have hot-swap capability with SATA you don’t need to power down, if you don’t you will have to power down to plug in each drive in turn).

You can easily change the drive letters in disk manager; and once Windows tattoos the drives they should be fixed in order in disk manager.

If you have a motherboard that uses the Intel chip set you may want to download and install the Intel® Matrix Storage Manager for Windows 7.

If PCs used EFI BIOS (like Macs) this probably wouldn’t be an issue, but since Microsoft uses a soft EFI BIOS to boot, they should have tested this better, and they should have fixed it (there are several people who indicated they reported this behavior during the beta testing).

While Windows 7 might be a nice overhaul of Vista; it’s not without it’s problems, and maybe the whole PC heritage is beginning to be too antiquated to keep updating; perhaps it’s time for a new design.

Originally posted 2009-11-12 01:00:38.

Windows 7 User Account Flaw

I’d say this is just an issue with Windows 7, but it’s actually been present in Windows and Windows Server since Vista…

Plainly put, the organization of information in Windows can become corrupt to the point that Windows is unable to create new users.

Really?

Windows (based on NT) is over a decade old… and to have such a basic flaw seems un-thinkable!

Let’s see, to create a user…

  1. Check to make sure the log-on identifier is unique;
  2. Create a security descriptor;
  3. Create a user home directory;
  4. Copy user default template files to the home directory;
  5. Apply the security descriptor to the user home directory and files; and
  6. Update the user database.

Seems pretty straight forward to me.

And not only is it an essential function of an operating system, but it’s one that we should have every expectation shouldn’t ever fail — and if it does, there should be a procedure to fix it.

Oh, there are procedures to fix it — in fact that are so many procedures you could probably re-install the operating system a hundred times before trying all of them… and there are more than one “Microsoft Fix-It” automated fixes as well, and trust me — your odds of winning the lottery are probably better than one of them actually resolving your issues.

All I can say is that regardless of the potential Windows might have, Microsoft’s actions indicate that it’s not intended to be anything more than a toy operating system — and never was.

Originally posted 2013-09-03 12:00:00.

Revise Windows XP “Home” Directory Structure

I gave this “tool” to a few of my friends a couple weeks ago and many of them thought it was kewl (a few even though it was useful).

It’s a fairly simple batch file that uses LINKD (which is also in the 7z file) from the Microsoft Windows Resource Kit (technically you need to download the resource kit to get it) that creates a junction point (that is a type of reparse point in the Windows NTFS file system that causes a redirection much like a “hard link” in many *nix file systems).  I could have used the MKLINK executable that ships with Windows, but I prefer LINKD.

OK — enough techo-babble…

What it does is make the “home” directory structure on Windows XP look more like it does on Windows Vista and Windows 7… so that you don’t have to keep thinking about which system you’re on.  No reason to write one for Windows Vista and Windows 7 to make it look like Windows XP since Microsoft generates the Windows XP style links on install (and that’s where I got the idea).

So…

C:\Documents and Setting can be referenced by C:\Users

C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\My Documents can be referenced by C:\Users\Administrator\Documents

Etc… I do the same for Downloads, Pictures, Music, Videos (if the My… exists).

I’ve tested it on both Windows XP and on Server 2003, seems to work just fine; but there’s no guarantee (read that as no warranty expressed or implied); code check the batch file for yourself.

The “tool” can be downloaded in a 7zip archive via: MkLinks

Originally posted 2009-11-25 01:00:28.

Windows – Desktop Search

Most people realize how valuable Internet search engines are; but not everyone has figured out how valuable desktop (and server) search engines can be.

Even in corporate environments where data storage is highly organized it’s easy to forget where something is, or not know that someone else has already worked on a particular document — but if you could quickly and efficiently search all the public data on all the machines in your organization (or home) you could find those pieces of information you either misplaced or never knew about.

With Windows Search it just happens.  If you have access to a document, and you search — you can find it.  Open up a file explorer Window and point it at location you think it might be, type in the search box — and matching documents quickly appear (and those that don’t match disappear).  Do the same thing against a remote share – and it happens magically (the remote box does all the work).  It’s even possible to  be able to search multiple servers simultaneously – and it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to setup.

Windows Search is already on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 as well as Windows Vista (you’ll want to apply updates) — and easily installable on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.  In fact, the defaults will probably do fine — just install and go (of course it will take a little while to index all your information).

A developer can fairly easily enhance search to include more document types using (plenty of examples, and it uses a model that Microsoft has employed in many parts of Windows)…   The search interface can be used via API, embedded in a web page, or just used directly from the search applet (which appears in auto-magically in Windows 7 and Windows Vista).

Very few Microsoft products are worth praise — but Windows Search is; and from my personal experience no competitor on any platform compares.

To those looking to write a “new” desktop search; look at Windows Search and understand what it does and how it works before you start your design.

Windows Search

Originally posted 2010-07-17 02:00:24.

Virtual CloneDrive

I’ve tried a number of virtual CD/DVD drive tools for Windows over the years.

Daemon Tools was one of the first (free) solutions that really worked well; but success went to their heads and to describe it as anything but a POS would be way too kind.

Microsoft released a very basic driver for Windows XP, and everyone hoped that they would just include the feature in future releases of Windows; but disappointment from Microsoft isn’t new, and isn’t likely to stop anytime soon.  Neither Windows Vista or Windows 7 had the feature, and the Windows XP driver can’t be used in anything but Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

Gizmo was a descent solution; the free version had all the features I really needed, it worked — but there was just so much baggage that came with being able to mount drive images; and there were times when it just didn’t work properly.

Virtual CloneDrive has been around for a very long time —  and it’s free.  In the past it always seemed like a so-so solution to the problem, but history has a way of rewarding the companies that stick with a fairly simple paradigm and who builds a product that just works.

While I’m not a huge fan of SlySofts other products (AnyDVD just never seems to work as advertised — and it’s an expensive solution), I have to say that Virtual CloneDrive is probably one of the absolute best virtual CD/DVD solutions for Windows.

Virtual CloneDrive

NOTE: Virtual CD/DVD solutions are used to create a virtual CD/DVD drive from an image of the disk (ISO, BIN, CCD, etc).

Originally posted 2010-07-22 02:00:40.

Windows 7 – Device Stage

Microsoft® Windows 7 has a really cool feature called Device Stage.

It presents all your hardware devices together in one place and allows you to organize information.  You know like synchronize information between your computer and the devices.

If you look on Microsoft’s web site you’ll see a great article detailing how you can fully synchronize your smart phone without knowing any details of hardware or software — just plug in the cable and tell it what program to use on the PC to synchronize with (and unlike in previous versions you don’t need Outlook).

Well, call me tickeled pink…

I plugged in my Microsoft Mobile 6.5 Smart Phone… and I just can’t tell you how disappointed I was.  Mobile Device Center (the abomination from Vista that replaced ActiveSync) downloaded, installed, and opened and told me I didn’t have any source of contacts or calendar information…

So Windows 7, the new flag ship of Microsoft’s desktop strategy ships without a connector for Windows Mobile 6.5, the new flag ship of Microsoft’s phone strategy… how sad.

I’d say Microsoft has convinced me I should buy an iPhone and use a Mac — Apple products actually work together.

Well, call me disappointed…

The slogan for Windows 7 should be something like

Maybe Windows 8, 9, 10, or 11…

Originally posted 2009-11-08 01:00:16.

Windows 7 – Boom or Bust?

What is it about Windows 7 that’s supposed to be so great???

I’m at a total lose.

Other than being a little faster than Vista on a low end machine I’m finding most of the changes make it worse not better.
 
Still same problems with UAC, install an app with admin privileged and then allow it to run and you’re screwed — so if the installer wasn’t written properly Win7 ain’t gonna help you, and if the installer was written properly it worked fine on Vista.
 
Administration tasks are moved around (again), and many details are hidden.
 
Lots of the new features are nothing more than dummy-proofing the OS; which probably doesn’t make it any easier for dummies, just harder for people who have a clue.
 
The overall appearance of Win7 looks like a kindergartner with crayons created it after looking at a Mac.
 
Having media playback components built in is nice, but many CODECs are still missing and the only support for MKV containers if from a third party (DivX); and  the entire media playback system has been changed (maybe it’ll be better in the long run, but it just makes it that much harder to do the things that were straight forward under Vista and XP).   Answer me this, if you have to install a piece of third party software to support media playback does it really matter whether or not Microsoft included a few very popular ones but not a full compliment?
 
The virtualization component is a joke.  Hyper-V would have been great, but instead we’re stuck with a minor improvement on Virtual PC (just download Sun’s free VirtualBox and forget about it; that will run on machines without hardware assisted virtualizaton, support a much more modern virtual machine, and be far less clunky than what Microsoft provides).
 
Most all the new features that promised to make Win7 more task oriented just aren’t really complete — the number of devices they support are minuscule… which means it really isn’t a feature, it’s a promised feature (which will probably require quite a few updates).  And we all know how good Microsoft is at keeping promises once the checks have been cashed.
 
The only thing I’ve really found about it that’s substantially better than Vista is the ability to find drivers on the web a feature that would have been straight forward to add to any previous version of Windows.
 
From what I can see Windows 7 is nothing substantially more than re-branding Vista SP3 (which is probably why the internal version number is 6.1 not 7) to try and shed the bad reputation Microsoft created with all the issues with releasing Vista before it was ready.  Not to mention create a revenue stream (a service pack would have been free to the individuals who bought Vista; and remember Windows 7 Upgrades cost the same regardless of the version of Windows you had).
 
I have a feeling that all Windows 7 will do for me is define the moment in time that I begin to move away from Microsoft and Windows… it’s really too bad the only viable option at the moment is a Mac… but then again, high end Macs are reasonably cost effective.

I will move my desktops and laptops to Windows 7 (I’ve already purchased the licenses); and I will continue to post my experiences with Windows 7 (hopefully some of them will be positive); but I will start considering non-Microsoft solutions.

Originally posted 2009-11-20 01:00:08.